Wildfires in the hills above Gagra. (Facebook.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A number of wildfires have been put out in the Gali district of Abkhazia but the fires have now moved further north, threatening Gagra, an iconic holiday resort on the Black Sea coast.

Despite lacking the means to fight the fires, the breakaway authorities in Sokhumi have rejected all offers of help from Tbilisi.

Tbilisi offered the Sokhumi regime a helicopter to fight fires in the rugged Abkhaz terrain, but Sokhumi’s response was “no”.

“There is no need for that, our services are successfully managing the situation,” Sergei Shamba, secretary of the Sukhumi Security Council, told Tbilisi-based agency SOVA-News

At the same time, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Tea Akhvlediani says that Tbilisi has offered several forms of assistance to the Sukhumi regime in extinguishing the fires. There is an ongoing dialogue, she said, but did not disclose any details.

“Dialogue and communication are ongoing with the representatives of the de facto government,” Tea Akhvlediani said.

“We have repeatedly stated our readiness to help in specific ways, including by extinguishing fires by helicopter. We have communication, two-way dialogue. Unfortunately, we are unable to disclose the details of this dialogue, for various reasons.” 

The situation is especially dire around Gagra where the fire approached the town’s outskirts. The breakaway authorities are not ruling out a full evacuation of the town’s entire population. Fires have damaged houses in several villages in the vicinity of the beach resort.

Soviet holiday resort 

Gagra was once one of the most important seaside resorts in the Soviet Union with its unique landscape and climate. Soviet leaders Josef Stalin and Nikita Khruschev, as well as many other members of high tier “Nomenklatura”, have personal villas (“dachas”) in and around Gagra.

Abkhazia’s de facto president Aslan Bzhania has taken personal control of the situation related to forest fires.

The fires both in the Gali and Gagra districts of Abkhazia were caused by the burning of dry grass by local farmers, Sokhumi reported.

Meanwhile there are still several forest fires raging in Samegrelo, Racha and Shida Kartli provinces of Georgia.